There are few professions that can compete with the air of mystery that surrounds SEO. In fact, David Copperfield could learn a thing or two about misdirection and creating mystique from a chat with an SEO consultant.
But things are changing.
Googleâ€™s algorithm is getting ever more sophisticated, and the attempts to game it ever more antiquated. Pretty soon, it will be what other people say about your website that decides its ranking, rather than the tactics you can deploy yourself.
But for now, hereâ€™s a basic rundown of how SEO works:
On page optimisation
Title tag <title> – Placed in the header section, this helps Google identify your pageâ€™s subject, and defines the description that appears at the top of the browser window
URL â€“ Having keywords in your domain name and page name also helps
Heading tag <H1> – Tells Google what the title of your page or article is
Body content â€“ Keyword stuffing is more likely to get you blacklisted then patted on the head. But itâ€™s wise to aim for a keyword density of 2-4% to keep the SE spiders well fed.
Popping your website address into SEOBugz.com will tell you whether youâ€™ve ticked off all of the above.
Off page optimisation
Itâ€™s all about the backlinks baby. So how do you get them? Here are some common tactics:
- Blanket email/spam website owners offering a link exchange.
- Beg relevant websites with a high Page Rank for a backlink
- Manually create mini websites for posting backlinks
- Post articles to directories with linked keywords and phrases
- Post links in social media sites (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Digg, del.icio.us, Reddit)
- Post relevant comments in blogs
These tactics are all well and good. But they can be very time consuming and thereâ€™s no guarantee Google wonâ€™t flick a switch (e.g. Panda) and reduce their impact.
There are 100s of other SEO tricks you can try, but they could all stop working tomorrow.
Instead, thereâ€™s a better approach to SEO that combines marketing, PR and sales into one juicy cocktail. What am I talking about? Yep, you guessed it â€“ customer focused SEO copywriting.
SEO copywriting should focus on answering your customersâ€™ questions
The aim of a forward thinking SEO campaign should be to attract links naturally.
To do this, you need to create content that people want to link to. So rather than produce keyword stuffed articles that scrape, copy and mash together content already available, SEO copywriting should focus on being valuable, interesting and original.
For topic ideas, consider what questions your customers might ask before buying your product or what queries theyâ€™re typing into Google. Answering these questions through your content will:
- Attract â€˜long tailâ€™ traffic from search queries
- Build trust in your expertise
- Pull customers into your sales funnel if they subscribe to your blog
- Attract links from people sharing your articles with friends and colleagues in social media
- Attract links from other bloggers in your field (posting helpful comments on their blogs is a good way of attracting their attention)
To get these benefits, your articles will need to deploy the persuasive and psychological techniques used by generations of copywriters. These are skills not easily found in article writing sweatshops, which continue to pour their bilge onto the web.
As word spreads on the new long term approach to SEO, expect to see more businesses investing in high quality SEO copywriting in 2012 – which provides useful information with a sales pitch weaved between the words.
Itâ€™s one SEO tactic thatâ€™s destined to always generate results.